Homelessness for children and young people under the age of 16 has been identified as a significant problem in the ACT for over twenty years, by both community and government.
There are currently no residential services for these children and young people, which often leads to them staying in harmful or unsafe circumstances. Ruby’s provides a place for them to stay with a focus on helping them return home.
The need for ongoing, coordinated service response was most recently recognised in the ACT Parliamentary and Governing Agreement, and a $1 million commitment made to build a fit-for-purpose service for young people under the age of 16.
Implementation of the Ruby’s Reunification Program within the nominated residential site would provide an appropriate, evidence-based therapeutic response to support these young people to reunite with their families and be diverted away from homelessness.
About the Ruby’s Reunification Program
For over twenty years, Ruby’s Reunification Program has provided therapeutic family counselling and a safe place for young people to stay in South Australia. The Ruby’s program is run by Uniting Communities, and operates across four houses in South Australia.
Ruby’s recognises that young people under the age of 16 at risk of homelessness require a different response to youth homelessness services that cater for older people. Ruby’s provides temporary accommodation to young people aged 12-17, while supporting them to rebuild their relationships with their family through mediation and counselling.
Young people spend some nights at Ruby’s, and some nights at home. This allows young people and family members to ‘have a break’, while they are supported to change their relationship through creating positive opportunities for them to spend time together, with support from youth workers and counsellors. Ruby’s provides a home-like environment, with parents and caregivers actively engaged in the day-to-day care of the young person, such as through regular communication and the development of agreed ‘rules’ and expectations. Ruby’s can also provide emergency accommodation for young people, and will assess whether reunification with family is possible.
An analysis of the long-term outcomes of young people who engaged with Ruby’s over a 4 year period indicated 89.8% of this cohort did not then present as a client of a homelessness service in South Australia. In 2018-19, over 80% of young people who stayed at Ruby’s returned home.
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